Teague, Belinelli come through in the clutch for Bulls

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Teague, Belinelli come through in the clutch for Bulls

Who would you attribute the following typical Tom Thibodeau postgame press conference description to?

Staying ready to play, going out there, knowing what your job is, doing your job, getting it done, listed the Bulls head coach after his teams 83-82 win Saturday night over the Nets at the United Center. Providing whatever the team needed, playing well within the unit and they played well on both sides of the ball, played well defensively and offensively.

The most likely suspects are Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. But while that duo played well, it wasnt them, nor was it the power-forward tandem of Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson.

With the injured starting backcourt of veterans Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton sidelined, it wasnt them either. Instead, it was a 19-year-old who some expected to log more minutes in the D-League than the NBA this season (Marquis Teague) and a free-agent acquisition that seemed so out of sync early in the campaign that it appeared he might be nailed to the bench.

Marco Belinellis late-game heroics he scored 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting, with none bigger than his driving, surprisingly uncontested layup with 22.1 seconds remaining, as well as two free throws to seal the deal might be the headline, but as a six-year veteran, as fans in New Orleans, Toronto and Golden State can attest, hes capable of putting up big numbers, although the native of Italy hasnt done it on a consistent basis for his entire career.

But with his performance in the stead of the injured Hamilton, that might be changing, now that he firmly understands that defense is the way to Thibodeaus heart.

Everybody knows if you play defense, you stay on the court, so everybody wants to play defense, wants to be aggressive. When I was in New Orleans with Monty Williams, I think we played great defense, too. But right now, its like a championship team., he said afterwards. We want to be good, we want to do something big, so if you want to do something big, you need to play defense first.

Those are lofty aspirations in a season that began with Derrick Rose working his way back from ACL surgery, but after playing for a series of non-playoff contenders, you cant blame the guy. The smile on his face in the Bulls locker room, however, illustrated how much he starved to be on a competitive, winning squad.

Thats a great feeling. It was amazing. Im happy for me, but Im happy for everybody, he explained. It was a team win. We played good defense, we played good offense and the fans here are amazing, so we won the game for us and for our fans.

That was a good shot because I think Jo made a good screen for me, first of all, and the spacing on the court was good. I just tried to be aggressiveI was wide open to the basket, so those were good points, but I think most important was our defense. We played great defense in the last three, four minutes, so thats why we won the game, the candid Belinelli continued, before admitting to being wary of Brooklyns Gerald Wallace, who previously blocked two dunks from the weak side earlier in the evening. I was scared about that, to be honest. I was thinking to dunk a little bit, but I saw Gerald Wallace over there was coming, so I thought to float it for a layup with the left. It went in, so it was good.

Now, in the case of Teague, his play in clutch situations is close to becoming a pattern, as he was productive in crunch-time minutes during a November home loss to Boston, excelled as Thibodeau rode him down the stretch in Wednesdays road victory over Philadelphia in a hostile environment and continued to display that prodigal calmness in Saturdays contest.

That same serene demeanor he has except on the court, where the soft-spoken 19-year-old directs traffic firmly on most occasions is evident after games, too.

Its exciting. Its fun. It lets you know your coach has confidence in you and you want to go out there, and do whatever you can, whatever it takes to win, he said after the win, in which he contributed modest numbers of eight points and two assists, but only committed one turnover, again played big minutes in the fourth quarter and did a more than serviceable job defensively against Brooklyn All-Star point guard Deron Williams. My confidence is where its been from Day 1. Im always confident in my game, confident in my abilities, so I stayed the same, whether I play 20 minutes or zero minutes.

I was just trying to contain Williams, just keep him in front of me. Its hard to keep a player like that from scoring. I just wanted to make it as tough on him as possible, contest his shots, continued the Indianapolis native and point guard for last seasons University of Kentucky title team. I was just trying to take whatever the defense gave me, creating for one of my teammates or knock down the shot for myself and I had few silly fouls that I shouldnt have made. Ive got to do better and learn from it.

I see these guys his teammates every day in practice, I know what they like to do, I know their strengths and where to give them ball where theyre going to be most effective, he went on to say. It felt good. It was a lot of energy in the building. It just helped us, motivated us to play even harder than we were. It just felt good to get the win.

Besides the aforementioned questionable shooting foul on Williams They called it, so I guess its a foul, he said about the play and not taking a wide-open jumper as the shot clock ran down (he was looking for Luol Deng, who was tying his shoe at the time), its hard to find much fault with how he played, especially considering the competition.

The same goes for Belinelli, making the Bulls recent success even more remarkable, given that both players didnt look like theyd be big reasons for the team overcoming Roses extended absence.

But thats how the Bulls have prospered, not just as of late, but C.J. Watson being back in town was a helpful reminder over the past two seasons. It just shows how much Belinelli and Teague have not only bought in, but fit into the teams beating-the-odds, survival-at-all-costs, all-hands-on-deck mentality, a way of life here at the United Center, fostered at the Berto Center and that travels well to wherever the Bulls play, as evidenced by their early-season record, which is surprising to some, but not to anybody wearing that uniform.

Preview: White Sox-Tigers doubleheader today on CSN

Preview: White Sox-Tigers doubleheader today on CSN

The White Sox take on the Detroit Tigers on Saturday in a doubleheader, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. The second game is scheduled after the conclusion of the first. Be sure to stick around after the final out of the second game to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchups: Derek Holland vs. Buck Farmer for Game 1, and Tyler Danish vs. Michael Fulmer for Game 2.

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

Avisail Garcia busts out of mini-slump in White Sox win

Avisail Garcia busts out of mini-slump in White Sox win

Avisail Garcia’s longest mini-slump of the season ended against his former team on Friday night.

Guessing nobody in Detroit is surprised. Same group probably isn’t overly shocked by Mike Pelfrey’s performance, either.

Both players came back to haunt their former team on a lengthy, rainy day as Garcia’s three-run double put Pelfrey ahead for good. Pelfrey escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and his offense erupted late as the White Sox toppled the Detroit Tigers 8-2 in front of 17,842 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Pelfrey allowed two runs (one earned) and Matt Davidson and Melky Cabrera both homered as the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak. The teams canceled the opening game of a doubleheader and sat through an 85-minute rain delay before playing the nightcap. The doubleheader was rescheduled for Saturday and both games will be on CSN.

“I have a lot of respect for those guys,” Pelfrey said. “Those guys were great. You make friendships and you have to compete against them. It makes it tough but it’s part of the game.

The first time I faced them I put my hat down and tried not to look at them or make eye contact and try to get guys out. Make pitches.

“Luckily it worked out today.”

There was nothing lucky about Garcia’s third-inning, go-ahead double. Garcia had gone hitless in 13 at-bats dating back to his final plate appearance in Saturday night’s blowout win over Seattle. The four games without a hit (he was intentionally walked in his only plate appearance Tuesday) is the longest Garcia has gone without a knock in what has begun to look like a breakout season.

Part of the stretch could be attributed to flu-like symptoms Garcia felt throughout the previous series which resulted in him being scratched from Tuesday’s starting lineup — “in Arizona it was really, really bad,” he said.

Despite still feeling the lingering effects, Garcia came through yet again. With the bases loaded and two outs, Garcia ripped a 1-0 changeup from Detroit’s Tyler Boyd into the left-field corner to score all three runners and give the White Sox a 3-1 lead. Cabrera and Jose Abreu both singled with two outs and Todd Frazier walked ahead of the double, which exited Garcia’s bat at 114.5 mph, the 24th hardest-hit ball this season in the majors, according to BaseballSavant.com.

Garcia also bounced a pair of singles through the left side to finish 3-for-5. Acquired from the Tigers in July 2013 as part of the three-way deal that sent Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox, Garcia is slashing .295/.338/.481 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs against his former team in 228 plate appearances.

“I see them like another team, you know,” Garcia said. “My job is to try to help my team win.

“I was just trying not to do too much, I’m trying to see the ball and put a good swing on it. I think that’s it. Don’t try to do too much because sometimes when I’m trying to do too much or trying to hit it over the wall my face goes quick so I don’t see the ball really well.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Why Jim Callis thinks Luis Robert is going to have a gigantic impact on White Sox]

Seems like Abreu has seen everything thrown his way recently. He extended his hitting streak to seven games with three singles, all of which were rockets off the bat, and finished 3-for-5.

Cabrera has also begun to heat up. His two-out RBI single in the sixth and three-run homer in the eighth provided the White Sox with plenty of margin for error. Cabrera finished 3-for-5.

Davidson’s homer in the sixth inning, his ninth, made it a 4-2 game. He finished with two hits for the White Sox, who had 14.

Pelfrey looked good in a second straight start. He followed up a six-inning effort at Seattle by limiting a Detroit lineup sans Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera to four hits. Pelfrey walked one and struck out seven in an 86-pitch performance.

That included a fourth-inning escape from a one-out jam with the bases loaded. Pelfrey got the first out when Davidson threw home to cut down J.D. Martinez. Abreu also forced a runner out at the plate on John Hicks’ grounder and Pelfrey induced an Andrew Romine comebacker to complete the escape.

Pelfrey went 4-10 with a 5.07 ERA in 24 games (22 starts) for Detroit in 2016 and was in the final season of a two-year, $16-million deal when they released him on March 30. The White Sox signed the veteran right-hander to a minor-league deal on April 5. He improved to 2-4 and lowered his ERA to 4.41.

Chris Beck, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle and Gregory Infante combined for four scoreless innings to close it out.

“Any time you can get a win and, I guess, sit around for 12 hours or however long it’s been,” Pelfrey said. “It’s always good to come out on top.

“I’d like to have gone a little deeper, but the bullpen did a great job like always. Melky, big hit. And Avisail, pretty big hit there in the third.

“Pretty good team win.”